Letters — 25 February 2017
Expats Gary and Betty say Consejo Customs “leaning on them” wrongfully

Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017

Mr. Evan X Hyde,

My wife and I are big fans of the Amandala and you. We have been living/retired in Belize for 3 1/2 years after several exploratory earlier visits. We finally made the big, permanent, move in 2013. And we are totally committed to spending our remaining years and meager retirement funds here in our paradise.

We had a very unusual and unexpected run-in with two Customs & Immigration officers, unknown to us previously, when we returned by launch to the Consejo Customs & Immigration dock. I posted the following on Facebook with the hope of waking everybody up to the reality of what is going to happen to Belize if this kind of behavior continues on the part of that department.

So here is a copy of that posting and I hope you can hear the ring of truth in it and perhaps support that perception:

Well, under the surface, the Customs and Immigration stink has risen full scale to this country’s consciousness, and GOB has slowly but surely responded to this heat and shaming. Obviously, tourists, expats and qualified retired persons (QRP’s) fall under a very large part of this department’s focus, as well as the fact that this very large group of foreigners represents millions of dollars infused to the Belize economy every year.

Yesterday, a group of us foreigners and a few local residents returned by launch from Chetumal to our home base in Consejo, to discover that the heat from the department had come down on us. When we arrived at the Consejo Customs and Immigration dock, our bags and passports were examined in-depth and we were interrogated in-depth re our activities that day in Chetumal MX, and then we were told we had to drive to the northern border to pay the customs charges that we had incurred on our various personal purchases, according to their seemingly mysterious calculations after just superficially glancing at our purchase receipts.

With 8 individual parties being processed by one officer while conferring with a senior officer wearing a sidearm, who was monitoring the process, it took a couple of hours of standing in the sun waiting to be processed.

When asked why these new officers had dropped on us in this manner, their ingenious reply was that we always thought you guys were just going over to Chet for lunch!

Yeah right! In the past, our trip monitoring had always been carried out with our complete cooperation and integrity and our local department officers were efficient and knowledgeable. We retirees are here in Consejo enjoying a very good life, and nobody here wants to rock the boat, and we are not smugglers or going to do anything that would jeopardize our retirement here in this paradise found.

We hope that the department can solve their internal problems without needing to come down on us. We are not the problem; we are a major part of the financial solution to this country’s economic problems.

And if this department continues with its negative aggressive attitude, focused on our broad range of expats, etc., your economic miseries will just really get worse.

Please, let’s work together to make it better for both of us.

Best regards,

Gary & Betty

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